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Great Father Trait #9: Challenge & Olympic Hockey

October 4, 2011

For me, the most memorable athletic moment in my lifetime is the 1980 USA hockey victory over the Soviet Union.  The game known as the “Miracle on Ice” was more than a hockey game in this country.  The USA was caught in the malaise of piercing stagflation, rising Cold War tensions and the nightly shame of the Iranian hostage crisis.  As a nation, we were not feeling great about ourselves.  Somehow watching a group of college kids, with red, white and blue jersey on, dismantle the most powerful hockey team in the world was both cathartic and confidence building for the entire nation.

So, why do people like me and so many others remember the “miracle on ice” so vividly?  I think a lot has to do with coach Herb Brooks.  Brooks was a hockey genius and master motivator, who was tough on his players, but taught them to believe in themselves.  Brooks continually challenged his players to achieve things they did not think were possible.  Brooks blended the perfect combination of challenge and support for his players to pull off a result that stunned the world.

Great fathers also know how to challenge their kids to greater heights.  Whether it is getting into a certain college, developing a new skill or pursuing a dream, great fathers are like Brooks in that they blend the right combination of challenge and support.  When our kids stretch to new heights, it can be uncomfortable, because sometimes there is pain involved.  The tendency for me and many other fathers is to rush in and remove any obstacles or pain.  Intuitively, we know that rushing in is a bad idea because it truncates our kids ability to persevere.   But it takes discipline and strength to back off and let our kids sink or swim themselves.

Great fathers challenge their children, without crushing their spirits or undercutting them by rescuing them.  What challenge are you throwing out to your kids?  What miracle could happen in your house?

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL.  Contact him at victorylifecoaching@gmail.com.

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